Last night, I tried to convey my feeling that we focus (largely because the media profit from it) on big tragic events while we ignore rapid and endless “mundane” tragedies of life in the United States. And I do feel that way. But I admit: it is a provincial view. But there is no one like Glenn Greenwald to break me out of my provincial haze.
In an article, The Boston Bombing Produces Familiar and Revealing Reactions, he makes many observations. I recommend reading it yourself. But what I think is the most important observation is that people should note that however they feel about this attack on innocents in Boston, it is the same as the people in Pakistan feel about US drone attacks on innocents there.
Unfortunately, I can almost hear what people would say in response to this, “But that’s war! The United States isn’t trying to kill innocent civilians.” (I will leave the more vile counters like “They all hate us!” alone.) I find this argument anachronistic. Since at least Sherman’s march to the sea, warfare has not been limited to conflicts between armies. Total war, where civilians are considered a critical aid to armies, is standard now. It is ridiculous to imagine our military leadership as focused on honor like some ossified old British general from the middle 19th century.
But regardless of the argument, I don’t think that we would be too understanding of an army that constantly bombed us, killing scores of civilians, even while it claimed that it didn’t mean it. These people see innocents killed all the time. It doesn’t much matter what the intent (much less the stated intent) of the killers was. And that is one of the most important lesson we can take from last night’s bombing: the people in the hills of Afghanistan and Pakistan experience this daily with much greater consequences.
We are not the only victims. In fact, we are not the primary victims; not even close.